Last year I wrote something called Lettering Without Thinking. With all the calligraphy commission works I’ve been doing lately, I didn’t have much time to use my brushes and just play with them. With calligraphy, I’m always concerned about legibility and balance, and whether the thickness of my strokes are consistent. I do play around with my pointed pen, but it’s not as carefree as no-nonsense writing with a brush.
Let me share with you a couple of pieces I’ve done a week ago, using a round #8 brush and black Ecoline watercolour. The only thing I wanted to do here is to centralise all the words, write them big and small, make a mess, and have fun. And I was able to do all those — I just made sure I had a lot of paper that’s ready to use. I didn’t do these all in one go! I did a few different styles and chose these two as my favourites.
Here are a few suggestions on how to experiment. You’ll get different results every time!
Try different brushes
Use watercolours, and don’t wash your brush when changing colours
Tear your papers’ edges for a rustic look
Splatter some ink when you’re done, just resist the urge to overdo it!
I never knew that preparing for a workshop on hand lettering would be this fun. In collaboration with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Singapore, this class has been months in the making (we actually started planning in 2014!). This workshop is in conjunction with SG50, Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence.
We started with lettering exercises, with worksheets that I designed myself. There were also hand-lettered cheat sheets and prints that they got to bring home, on top of the markers and goodie bags from Coffee Bean. Each participant was to design a piece as an entry to Coffee Bean’s SG50 card design contest.
We had a wonderful combination of coffee, pastry, conversations and laughter — apart from the actual lettering, of course. It was an awesome way to spend a Saturday morning!
Head over to the Coffee Bean’s Facebook page to see more photos, and who knows, they might have more activities in store for us in the near future.
The video and all photos are courtesy of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf Singapore.
I’ve been using selected colours of Sharpies in the past few years. Aside from black which I use almost every time I do script lettering for commission works, I also have silver, gold and bronze. As a graphic designer, I create all my lettering in black then colour them in my trusty laptop.
Everything totally changed last week when I received a full set of Sharpies for a class I will be teaching in a couple of weeks. I wanted to test the tools and see if the markers will work well with the paper. I made my sketch in pencil and started filling it with colour… and I was hooked! I just realised that it’s actually fun to go totally traditional and colour my artwork on paper.
I mean seriously, why would we rely on the computer when it’s all the more fun to fill in the colours by hand? I was thinking about why I didn’t do this before, and I could only think of a couple of things — first, colouring it in Illustrator is more convenient. I can do and redo as I please. Command Z. Trusty shortcuts. The works. Second, I wasn’t confident that I’ll be able to nail the colours in one go. There’s no ‘undo’ in the analog world. If I’m not pleased with my work in the end, there’s no other choice but to crumple the paper and do the whole thing all over again.
Well, obviously my lettering still needs a lot of improvement, but I’m quite happy that I did it anyway. I guess it never hurts to try a new tool, and if it doesn’t work the way you expected it to, don’t give up! I’ll probably be opening a Beginners’ Lettering Class here in Singapore in the near future so if you’re on this island, email me if you’re interested! In the meantime, here are a few more Sharpie DIYs around the web that I think might be fun to try:
If addressing envelopes in calligraphy seem intimidating for a beginner, here’s a way to use Sharpies instead. So pretty!
For coffee lovers like me (who can’t get enough of mugs), this is a fun DIY to try.
I’m in love with these black journals with gold Sharpie lettering! Gold on black never goes out of style, even if it’s not Christmas.
I”m excited to share with you this hand-lettered logo for a wonderful photographer, Vanessa, of Captured by V and Co. So far I’ve been doing logos for these awesome photographers, both here in Singapore and in the US, and I have to say it has always been a pleasure working with these creative ladies. Vanessa was no different. A self-taught photographer who does newborn and maternity sessions, I’m quite surprised that her new website has a theme that’s quite different from all the others – nautical!
The hand-lettered logo I’ve designed specially for her (she wanted a lil red bow) turned into a logo that complements the theme, and makes an elegant watermark for her photos, too. Featuring this logo is a great way to end this super busy, super rainy week. Have a lovely weekend, everyone!
I learned from the ladies of Mama Elephant that it’s never too early for Christmas. Just recently, they posted the ‘First Looks’ of the soon-to-be-released Christmas stamps with my brush lettering. How exciting! It’s still hard for me to believe that my hand-lettering has been transformed into these clear stamps. I think it’s really awesome.
I may not have a knack for designing greeting cards using Mama Elephant stamps yet, but I need to take the plunge soon. One of the things I’m going to work on before the year ends! Here are a couple of ‘First Looks’ from their blog, and you can read the full post over here.
Today I’m sharing this sweet hand-lettered logo for wedding and lifestyle photographer, Melissa Vossler! She wanted a swirly logo in my lettering style, and I designed a few rounds of logos for her to choose from. I was so glad that we have agreed on this final artworkbecause personally, this is one of my favourites.
Her portfolio is worth checking out, specially if you’re in Orange County, because she does amazing family portraits and weddings (I love the babies most!)!
Have you ever tried holding your brush or pen and just writing whichever way you want? With all the ‘rules’ we need to remember when writing with a pointed pen, not thinking about writing at all can be liberating. I always say that it’s better to ‘not think, just write’, and that you’ll get a good result nevertheless.
But how about just scrawling large words onto paper and not caring what the outcome is? I’ve coined a term for it – ok, not really, but still – I call it Lettering Without Thinking. So it’s not that clever, but it makes you want to try it, right? Just whip out your brush, dip it in paint and write – no holds barred.
Gather all your materials – copy paper, watercolour or acrylic paint, brush pens, Sharpies, paintbrushes, the sky’s the limit. Experiment with different brushes and pigments and see how your works turn out. It’s like Jackson Pollock writing letters. It’s messy, it’s invigorating, and who knows, you might actually come up with something frame-worthy.
It’s a breath of fresh air after doing Copperplate drills or trying to figure out a certain flex nib. And you know what? I somewhat feel that I will be doing this more often.
First off, thank you to everyone who joined the giveaway. You were all amazing! Your kind and welcoming words were very heartwarming and I enjoyed reading through all your wishes. I just realised how cold it probably is on the other side of the planet – a lot of you were wishing for Spring! Just a week ago we were wishing for rain here in Singapore. It has become so dry, grass is turning brown, and forests were burning. We got our wish eventually and I’m sure all of us heaved a sigh of relief when the first drops of rain fell.
Now for the giveaway, I have chosen a winner! Making the decision was really tough because there were really quite a lot of touching and profound wishes. If only I could play Santa! So, drumroll please… congratulations Jenny Renee! Here’s the wish that will win your hearts:
“If I could have one wish today it would be to be given a complete day off from both of my jobs so that I can spend time with my kids. Being the sole provider can be tough and involves sacrifices, like not spending as much time with them as I would like.”
Jenny Renee, please send your full name and mailing address to pauline (at) happyhandsproject.com for your ‘Make A Wish‘ stamp set from Mama Elephant. Curious as to what the ‘Make A Wish‘ stamp set looks like on handmade cards? I scoured 2 wonderful blogs and here are my favourites:
I can’t thank you enough for all your responses. Another hand-lettered stamp set will be released soon so drop by soon for another update! You can also like The Happy Hands Project page on Facebook so you’ll be kept in the loop.
Yasmin of Darling & Mabel got in touch with me from Sydney, Australia, and asked me to create a hand-lettered logo for an Events Company she was setting up. As an Events Stylist, she’s also a creative and has her own Etsy shop as well, and it was such a breeze working before simply because I adore her taste.
You’ll see the original lettering above, written with my trusty Micron pen. Do you notice how I enjoyed writing all those swirls? I remember making it a bit difficult to choose which logo was the best. I could not decide, either! But I’m glad with Yasmin’s choice and it’s lovely seeing that logo on top of her blog every time I visit.
If you haven’t seen this yet, check out another lettering logo I did for Spilled Milk Cakery in California.
We are all waaay too busy preparing for a trip next month, plus I got all these ideas for Happy Hands Project that I can’t wait to share. I got a couple of DIYs up my sleeve, too, which you will see in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, here are 3 gift tag designs that I have on my Etsy shop. These are instant download files, so you wouldn’t have to wait to get your hands on them. These tags will definitely make your holiday gifts extra special. I’ve been playing with brush lettering lately and that’s how I came up with these chalkboard style tags.
By the way, the ‘Faith Hope Trust‘ brush lettering wall art is still on sale in the shop for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.